Did you know that you can boost your human “horsepower?”

Just like a car’s performance is ultimately determined by the engine’s horsepower, your body has a similar measurement.

And this Summer, I’d like to challenge you to make a focused effort to increase your own horsepower, so you can better your overall health and fitness.

Your body’s horsepower is a measurement known as VO2 max. It’s a measure of how quickly your lungs can deliver oxygen to the rest of your body (so it can use it as fuel) during bouts of intense effort.

The faster the rate at which your lungs can deliver the oxygen to use as fuel, the better your overall performance and health.

For instance, one study, published in the journal Chest, found that the better your “horsepower” and the better your lungs work, the less likely you will die of ANY cause. [1]

Another recent study published in the American Journal of Human Biology found that brief-but-intense exercise is better at preventing cardiovascular disease than traditional endurance exercise done for longer periods of time. [2]

Are you starting to see why you should boost your horsepower this Summer?

You’ll extend your lifespan, protect your heart, and as it turns out, improve your metabolism too! Yet another study examined the benefits of intense exercise on the body’s metabolism. They recruited

sedentary male volunteers and had them exercise on a bike for brief and intense bouts of 30 seconds.

The results? According to Professor James Timmons, the study’s lead author, “What we have found is that doing a few intense muscle exercises, each lasting only about 30 seconds, dramatically improves your metabolism in just two weeks.” [3]

The way to increase your lung power and “horsepower” is through intense exercise, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It’s time-efficient and the benefits can’t be ignored.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, just doing 10, 30-second all-out sprints outdoors, 3 times a week can give you all the benefits we’ve seen so far. Or if you want to cool down after being in the heat, you could do swim sprints in a pool.

Or you can go for a hike and every so often, go all-out and then rest a little. Another simple exercise you can do—squat jumps. They are very effective at boosting your heart rate and leaving you gasping for air. Start in a squatting position, then jump as high as you can as you bring your hands towards the ceiling. Then go back into the squat position as soon as you land.  Be as creative as you’d like. Just make sure the exercise you choose is something you find both challenging and fun.

Do this throughout the Summer months and by the time Fall comes around, you’ll be a new and improved, better-performing version of you!




Michael Budensiek


[1] Schünemann, Holger J., MD, PhD et al, “Pulmonary Function Is a Long-term Predictor of Mortality in the General Population,” Chest Sept. 2000; 118( 3): 656-664

[2] Duncan S. Buchan, Stewart Ollis, John D. Young, Non E. Thomas, Stephen-Mark Cooper, Tom K. Tong, Jinlei Nie, Robert M. Malina, Julien S Baker. The effects of time and intensity of exercise on novel and established markers of CVD in adolescent youth. American Journal of Human Biology, 2011

[3]John A Babraj, Niels BJ Vollaard, Cameron Keast, Fergus M Guppy, Greg Cottrell and James A Timmons. Extremely short duration high intensity training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males. BMC Endocr Disord. 2009; 9: 3.